How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Program Near Drexel Heights Arizona
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Drexel Heights AZ, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most individuals will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Drexel Heights AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up with Drexel Heights AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you decide to work in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Drexel Heights AZ area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Drexel Heights AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Drexel Heights home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are often less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As soon as you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Drexel Heights AZ area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Drexel Heights AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are reviewing have relationships with Drexel Heights AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Drexel Heights medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Drexel Heights AZ home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Drexel Heights AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Drexel Heights Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Drexel Heights Arizona.